When you first install a new furnace, the technician may give you a list of things to do in the coming years. They may suggest yearly maintenance to ensure it’s working optimally. They may instruct you to clean and change the air filters regularly to ensure a healthier living environment.
Most houses with gas-forced air heating and cooling systems are designed with a standard furnace filter made from woven spun-glass fibers. It acts as a barrier between the HVAC equipment and the ductwork, picking up dust, debris, and other pollutants before it enters the air supply. While it does a pretty good job of removing large contaminants, it does little to improve the air quality.
For that, an improved air filter is the only way to go. However, if you do a little research on air filters, you’ll quickly become confused. What’s possible? What air filter should you invest in? Here are a few of the options you’ll find available.
HEPA – HEPA stands for high efficiency particulate air. If an air filter is rated as a HEPA filter, it’s designed to remove 99.97 percent of the duct, pollen, mold, bacteria, and other contaminants with a size of 0.3 microns. HEPA filters are ranked according to a MERV score, which stands for minimum efficiency reporting value. This value can be used to compare to other filters, and will give you an idea of how efficient the filter is. The higher the MERV rating, the more particles the filter will trap.
Media filter – a media filter sits between the main return duct and the blower cabinet. It’s made from a deep-pleated paper-like material that can be at least seven times better than the standard filter at removing particles from the air supply. These deep pleats can also increase the filter’s life, but because of the density, it may impede the furnace’s ability to blow conditioned air out into the home. If you’re moving to a media filter, ensure it’s rated correctly for your furnace’s blower.
Electronic – electronic air filters are a part of a whole-house filtration system used as an ionizing air purifying system. It uses a small but intense electrical field to charge airborne particulates, then passes them through metal plates with opposite charges to accumulate the debris. This type of air filter needs regular maintenance to ensure it’s working properly.
UV – UV air filters have been getting more publicity in recent months. UV air filters are designed using short-wave ultraviolet light to inactivate airborne pathogens and microorganisms like mold, bacteria, and some viruses. They have a goal of reducing air pollutants, and improving your indoor living space to give you cleaner air.
Whatever air filter you choose, it should work in conjunction with your HVAC system to keep your system operating well, and provide a clean air supply for you and your family.
Have more questions about air filters? Just ask.